Press-Republican

October 21, 2013

Willsboro schools chief praised for theater support

ALVIN REINER
Press-Republican

WILLSBORO — Though he professes a background in athletics, Willsboro Central School Superintendent Stephen Broadwell energetically endorses the arts. 

“It’s great training for life, as it teaches many valuable skills — such as dedication, performing in front of an audience, teamwork and the ability to speak and be understood.”

Broadwell has been named the New York State Theatre Education Association Administrator of the Year for 2013.

“It was an honor to represent Willsboro on behalf of all of the administrators that support the arts,” he said, recently returned from accepting the award at the annual Theatre Education Association  conference in New York City 

“Awards like this are based on the great teachers at the schools.”

‘COLLABORATION’

Broadwell credits Willsboro Central theater teacher Derrick Hopkins for boosting his dedication to promoting theater arts. 

“It’s incredible to watch our students when they first start out and what they are like when Derrick takes them to the final product.” 

The superintendent also has high praise for the music program under Jennifer Moore and the visual-arts program with teacher Elizabeth Belois. 

“It’s a collaboration of our entire program, music, art and theater. We have unbelievable staff in all of these departments,” the superintendent said.

“The community is also unbelievable due to the numerous volunteers that support us in every facet. Then they get to enjoy the performances, and we have great attendance.”

It’s not every day that a school administrator can be counted on to support requests for funding when it comes to theater arts, Hopkins said.

FEELING LUCKY

“Theater directors in other schools tell me how lucky we are, as their administrators don’t feel theater is that important in their districts,” Hopkins said.

“I have the opportunity to say, ‘Yes,’” Broadwell countered.

Though the superintendent has done much to support the funding of the arts programs, Hopkins added, “we always have to raise money, as tickets and concessions don’t cover all of it.”

There is an innovative fundraiser underway now — the member of school faculty or staff who has the most money donated in his or her name will be devoured by Audrey the carnivorous plant during a special assembly to promote the upcoming performance of “Little Shop of Horrors.”

One of the educational projects Broadwell and the arts teachers are considering is the possibility of having Willsboro become a centralized school for a concentration in the arts. 

“We are trying to show the expertise we have. We are still trying to explore the opportunities,” Broadwell said.

“There are other schools that have only a few students that have a serious interest in the arts, and this would be an opportunity to put them all together,” added Hopkins.

‘RARE LEADER’

Theater educators from around New York state annually submit nomination letters nominating leaders in education who endorse and support theater programs at the local level. 

Broadwell’s was written by Hopkins.

In his letter, he cited examples that include allocating funds to expand musical production, creation of an elementary program and a High School play program. 

Students pre-K through grade 12 have options for after-school theater education, as well, Hopkins wrote.

“I have had the opportunity to work with a variety of leaders over the years,” he told the association. “Rarely have I have been fortunate enough to work with an administrator who values and promotes the arts. Although his education background is in physical education, Stephen Broadwell is one of those rare and important education leaders who value the importance of theater education.”

COLLEGE-LEVEL COURSES

Broadwell, the letter said, “supported and encouraged the creation of two college-level theater courses and the level of rigor placed on students as they studied the complexities and sophistication of script, fundamentals of acting, including character development and improvisation skills and technical components.

The award application also told of the students traveling to Proctors Theatre in Schenectady, where they were required to critique professional shows from all aspects.

In addition, students critiqued local productions of plays and musicals.

THE LONG HAUL

Broadwell, in his ninth year as superintendent, has been involved in all areas of education, including curriculum, community relations, the arts and athletics. 

He serves as the vice president of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association. 

As an avid runner, Broadwell has completed 20 marathons.

  Email Alvin Reiner:rondackrambler@aol.com

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UPCOMING EVENTS

Willsboro Central School Drama Club has a fundraiser, "Dinner and Music for the Soul," set for 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 27, at Turtle Island Café.

"Little Shop of Horrors" runs Nov. 7 through 10 at the school, with "Disney's Winnie the Pooh Kids" Feb. 7 through 9 and "I Remember Mama," May 29, 30 and 31.

For more details, call the school at 963-4456.